By Julie Voigt// @JulieNoted_NFL
When you lead the league in tackles, 146 to be exact, as a rookie linebacker, have 7 sacks, are coming in second in tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and are seventh in pass breakups, fans would assume this individual is going places in the NFL. This would include being selected to the NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando.
For Colts’ rookie linebacker, Darius Leonard, all of this is true, except the Pro Bowl. However, Leonard was selected as a Pro Bowl Alternate along with quarterback Andrew Luck, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, center Ryan Kelly and defensive tackle Denico Autry.
According to Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated, “Three bodies vote on Pro Bowlers: Coaches, players, and fans. Necessarily, primetime broadcasts have a big influence on all three groups. How many primetime games did the Colts get in 2018? One: Thursday Night Football on Oct. 4, vs. the Patriots. (And it was the lone game Leonard missed this season due to injury).”
Leonard has been playing fantastically, including playing a major role in the Colts’ shutout victory last weekend vs Dallas Cowboys with 11 tackles during the game. He currently holds the Colts franchise record for tackles in a rookie season, previously held by former linebacker Jerrell Freeman.
Leonard is also being talked about as one of the front-runners for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Much credit will go to head coach Frank Reich and company for rebuilding this defensive line, a group that no one has mentioned in season’s past.
Perhaps this is not a snub. Maybe, just maybe, this is making room for bigger and better things, not just for Leonard, but for the team. A team that no one wants to face in the playoff run, of course, if the stars happen to align right.
Huge things are happening for this team. But in the long run, I expect to see Darius Leonard being selected to the Pro Bowl in the years to come.